The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has blocked Facebook on its campus, without issuing any official announcement. ((As reported by Indian Express)) When people were trying to access Facebook on the Internet facility in the campus, the site did not open and only upon inquiry learnt that the site has been blocked. The university spokesperson who himself has a Facebook account, cited the reason to be objectionable content related to Islam posted on Facebook. This might hurt religious sentiments of Muslims and flare up passions.
What kind of an administration can order such an irrational ban? Objectionable content could be anywhere, not just Facebook alone. The Aligarh Muslim University, itself has a Facebook page and keeps uploading news related to the university. So how does one access that on campus? Besides one can always connect to Facebook through some other mode providing Internet like say your mobile phone.
Sources say that the real reasons may be completely different. The AMU community account had started a ‘Remove V-C’ campaign on Facebook, after the death of a student in April last year. Also, a campaign for the restoration of the students union was launched sometime back.
So this is one more case of restricting freedom of speech in the guise of hurting ‘religious sentiments’.
Having witnessed numerous instances of ridiculous Internet censorship since last year, I have two questions for AMU prodding me right now:
1) Objectionable content or for that matter any content, can exist anywhere on the Internet. So why accuse Facebook alone? What about spreading objectionable content through good old email, how are they going to stop this then?
2) Supposing someone opens Facebook on their smartphone while at the campus and reads or spreads ‘objectionable’ content, how will AMU administration ensure that ‘religious sentiments’ are not hurt and passions are not flared?
Its the same thing as what the Indian Government tried to do when it wanted social network companies to censor content, under the pretext of preventing ‘religious sentiments’ from being hurt. However, the rising voices of people and the power of social media doused it off. It remains to be seen what forces will win at the Aligarh Muslim University – the high and mighty administration or the freedom seekers fighting for a cause.